Prose – A Christmas Carol Essay
Prose – A Christmas Carol
But it’s too late now’, showing either that he is not as bitter as we thought, or that he is already learning from the lessons he is being taught. He is also deeply affected in the third episode when talking to the Spectre about his late sister and her son; Fred, his nephew. After we see his reaction, which was filled with sorrow and remorse, we realise that a possible reason for his hatred of Christmas is because of the death of his sister, and the reason for Scrooge being so mean. Scrooge learns his lesson throughout the novel through the reactions he portrays through the episodes he sees.
An important episode in this stave is the one of Scrooge at Mr. Fezziwig’s ball. This is because of the quote ‘He corroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed everything’, which is important because it shows that he can love and can, if he wants to, change. Also in this episode, Scrooge says ‘The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune’, which shows that Scrooge can still love, yet the positives are outweighed by the negatives in his life, so he does not see the point of loving and living.
He also says ‘I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now’, which shows that he is getting the message and is learning the lesson that the Spirits have to give. The next strong reaction that the Ghost gets from Scrooge is after the scene with his fianci?? , which contains the evident emotions of sadness and regret. His may be for not changing his ways, or for the actions of his fianci?? , but they are portrayed when he says to the Spirit ‘Why do you delight to torture me?
‘ Lastly, Scrooge tries to extinguish the light upon the Spirit’s head, which is an obvious display of misery and pain which is evoked onto Scrooge in the various scenes. The vivid description of the Ghost at the beginning of the stave is symbolic, like the description of Marley’s chain in the first stave entitled ‘Marley’s Ghost’. The Spirit is described as ‘like a child: yet not so like a child as an old man’, which makes the Ghost seem innocent and good, the common perception a children.
The Spectre also has ‘pure white’ clothing, which reinforces innocence, and holds a clove of holly, which symbolises Christianity, and purity also. Other vivid elements of the Spirit’s description include; a crown symbolising a halo which creates an obvious link to heaven and virtue, and ‘a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm’, which emphasises its appearance as a ghost. Stave Three is entitled ‘The Second of the Three Spirits’, and at the beginning of which, Dickens creates an apprehensious, and suspenseful atmosphere through the use of the delayed visit from the second Spectre.
Unlike the previous two times, pathetic fallery is not used, but, like the last time, the use of time is; ‘five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter of an hour went by, yet nothing came’. This creates suspense as to what will happen, and when the spirit will come. Dickens also sets the scene by having Scrooge on guard, ready for when the next spectre will come, and ready for the same greeting as from the spirit before. This is evident through the quote ‘But, finding that he turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which of the curtains this new spectre would draw back, he put every one aside with his own hands’.
This creates suspense because, when the Ghost doesn’t seem to come on time, both the reader and Scrooge begin to wonder if, how and when he will come. This suspenseful atmosphere is enhanced by ‘a strange voice’ calling Scrooge by his name. At this point, we do not know who or what it is, or even if it is the second of the three spirits, which builds up on the suspenseful atmosphere, because of the unknown. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge many things about, and to do with Christmas, and mainly shows him why people celebrate it, despite what conditions they live in.
Firstly, the Ghost shows Scrooge the market place in the run-up to the present Christmas, with all of the food displays, the frenzied shopping and the excitement of Christmas, all of these things that Scrooge doesn’t do currently, or wouldn’t do without the lessons from the Ghosts, in the run-up to Christmas. This also says the fact that happiness does not come from the amount of money you have, but is through being with loved ones, and making an effort to please and enjoy.
This is evident through the quote ‘but the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day’, which describes the enthusiasm of everyone for that one day of the year which is the time for festiveness and family. The Ghost next takes Scrooge to the house of his employee; Bob Cratchitt and family, and sees how the family survive at Christmas, which is pitiful in itself, never mind how they survive normally. The quote ‘Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose was the rarest of birds …
; and in truth it was something like it in this very house’, illustrates how poor the Cratchitts are, for the goose is essentially ordinary, yet is extravagant in this house because they are used to so much less. Yet, this episode shows Scrooge and the reader that Christmas is not just to be celebrated because it is the birth of Jesus, or because it brings many gifts, but because it brings family together and lets people be happy and merry. Collectively, the first two episodes displays to Scrooge that Christmas is not about the bad times in the past, but is about family.
Next, Scrooge visits the sailors, miners and lighthouse keepers at Christmas, which describes families and co-workers enjoying each others company, weather young or old, and celebrating Christmas in the ‘bowels of the earth’ and various other conditions, which is more than what Scrooge has ever done, even if his experiences have been the lesser of two evils. These episodes show Scrooge that happiness is not just about money, or is even to do with money, bit is within each other and within family. After that, the Spectre takes Scrooge to his nephew, Fred, celebrating Christmas with his wife and sisters-in-laws.
Scrooge sees Fred’s ‘infectious’ laughter which lightens the mood of everyone there, showing that happiness is in others, but he also sees the ridicule they use against him. However, he also sees how much his nephew cares for him, when he says ‘his offences carry their own punishment, and I have nothing to say against him’. When Scrooge goes to see the miners, sailors and the lighthouse keeper, Scrooge learns an important lesson which will help him complete his journey with the three spirits. The lesson is reinforcing to Scrooge, and the reader, that happiness is in others, not in the amount of money one has.
This is evident when describing the miners who, according to the spirit, ‘labour in the bowels of the earth’. Dickens describes the families with examples like ‘An old, old man and woman, with their children and their children’s children, and another generation beyond that, all decked out in their holiday attire’, which links to the poor, and their stereotypical big families, and this quote describes how closely linked and happy they are to be with each other, showing that, though they are poor, they are happy.
This is also supported by the lighthouse keepers when Dickens says ‘Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat, they whished each other a merry Christmas in their can of grog’. This quote also says that, despite how well off you are or where you live, you can be happy, which is the inevitable lesson Scrooge will learn. The lesson is also taught with the sailors with the quotation ‘and had remembered those he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted to remember him’.
Scrooge also makes a realisation at his nephew’s house, when he hears what his family really think about him, and also sees how Christmas can be a happy occasion. Firstly, upon entering the house with the Spectre, Scrooge sees his nephew and other family after they have eaten their Christmas dinner, and enjoying the celebrations, which includes music and games like ‘blind-man’s buff’ and ‘yes and no’, the latter of which provided the main source of name-calling directed at Scrooge.
However, upon entering, he initially hears a conversation on how it appears that only Fred takes pity on Scrooge, while his companions take delight in mocking him, with jokes about how rich he is and comments about their dislike for him, which contradicts from Fred’s view on Scrooge, like how ‘his offences carry their own punishment’, how he has nothing to say against him, and how ‘His wealth is no good to him. He don’t do any good with it’.
After that, the family then goes onto play music, which reminds Scrooge of his days at boarding school, and also the Ghost of Christmas Past and the lessons that he had been shown so far, which adds to the morals he is learning because ‘he might have cultivated the kindness of life for his own happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the sexton’s spade that buried Jacob Marley’, which shows that Scrooge is learning to regret, and see what he has done wrong. Games then follow the music, and in them, happiness is reinforced, again, in others and not in money, through Topper playing ‘blind-man’s buff’ with Fred’s wife’s sister.
However, when reaching the last game, Scrooge becomes the target of ridicule, even by Fred, by describing a ‘disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes, and lived in London, and walked about the streets, and wasn’t made a show of, and wasn’t led by anybody, and didn’t live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear’.
The answer was indeed Scrooge, and shows how other people perceive him, even his own family. A major part in the lessons Scrooge learns come from the visit to the Cratchitts’, and he is deeply affected by it. Firstly, Scrooge sees how much, or most suitably how little, the poor, namely the Cratchitts in this episode, get to eat. This is evidently a contrast to what Scrooge would be used to, and would have affected him to see how different the conditions were for the poor.
Also when Scrooge visits the Cratchitts, we are introduced to the character Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchitt’s disabled son, who is used in the novel as a symbol of the poor from Victorian England. Dickens uses Tiny Tim to evoke sympathy in both the reader and Scrooge, because of his disability and his poor living conditions, and also because of his good nature towards his life, and the sufferings of other people, showing that he is not selfish despite his condition.
Also, Scrooge is affected by his visit to the Cratchitt’s because they seem to be a contradiction of how the poor were seen in typical Victorian times. They were mainly seen as feckless, immoral, idle and drunken, yet Tiny Tim and family are portrayed as loving, caring, moral people, which is another reason why both Scrooge and the reader react so strongly to this episode. When answering Scrooge’s question on whether Tiny Tim will live, the Ghost answers with a quote that Scrooge had said to the charity workers at the beginning of the novel; ‘decrease the surplus population’.
This is teaching and reinforcing to Scrooge that his actions were not only wrong, but regrettable, especially after viewing the scene with Bob Cratchitt, Tiny Tim and their family. This also creates a greater impact on Scrooge because he knows they were his own, spiteful words, and shocks him into thinking he could ever say that. This also proves that he is learning the lessons of the Ghosts. When answering Scrooge, the Spirit also uses the line; ‘to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust’.
This line is a metaphor portraying Scrooge as an insect and the dust as the poor and hungry, like Tiny Tim, and reinforcing what Scrooge said earlier, about ‘decreasing the surplus population’. This says that the population is too big and that many should die to reduce it, which is something that Scrooge now regrets saying, so has a bigger impact on his reactions to the Spectre’s answer. At the end of the third stave, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge two creatures from under his cloak. They were shaped as children, a boy and a girl, who were described as ‘wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable’.